From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 6, Number 23 - August 31, 2006
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

RHCD complains about commission

by Cat Urbigkit

The Sublette County Rural Health Care District Board’s last meeting before a new board is seated was filled with recriminations and criticisms of Sublette County Commissioners. Seated at the RHCD table were board members Bill Barney, Jerry Jensen and Mary Lynn Worl, who all just lost their bids for re-election. Also attending, but not participating in the criticism, was Garry Eiden Sr. Walt Bousman was absent from the meeting.

Newly elected, but not yet sworn into office, board membersin attendance included Dave Racich and Jud Faler.

The issue Monday night centered on the fact that the commission had faxed a letter to the RHCD last Friday reminding the district that the county owns the land and buildings the RHCD leases, and the lease agreement includes a provision for the commission to be given the opportunity to first view and approve of new construction projects on county property before commencement of construction. The commission sent a letter responding to the RHCD’s recent announcement that it had slated the groundbreaking for a new medical clinic in Pinedale for mid-September. But several RHCD board members were skeptical of the commission’s real motives for sending the letter.

Worl said that, on the night of the election, Commissioner John Linn indicated his intention to pull the funding for the clinic project, only to have that followed by the commission letter.

“It strikes me as odd,” Worl said. “If they were on top of things, why didn’t they communicate with us over a year ago? I just question the timing.”

Jensen said he finds the situation “ironic,” adding that “one county commissioner has been trying to dictate to the board of what, when and where” things will be done. Jensen said the citizens of the county should be aware of this, adding that the RHCD board has been “catering to one of the county commissioners” in meeting with a citizen to hear his views on the building project, which only served “to hold up the process.” Jensen was referring to Pinedale resident Bill Schertz, who has served as somewhat of a public watchdog during the design process for the clinic. When the RHCD board appeared unwilling to accommodate Schertz and his input, the commission specifically requested the RHCD allow him to participate.

Worl said funding for construction of the clinic would come from the RHCD board, not the county commission.

Barney said the clinic ground breaking was set for Sept. 12, but that date could slide a bit with the seating of a new board, and giving the commission time to review the plans. Barney said when the commission reviews the building plans, he’d be surprised if the result would be the commission or the new board telling the people of the county that the new clinic wasn’t needed.

The RHCD board was also told Monday night that the cost for constructing the clinic has gone up nearly $1 million since this spring, to a cost of $7.6 million for construction-only costs. The board is also expected to spend several million on “soft goods” to get the clinic up and running.

Ryan Wilson of GE Johnson Construction told the board that both materials and labor costs have escalated, with the cost to construct the clinic actually doubling in price in the last two years.

Worl said the board was “perfectly aware, every month that went by, of the additional costs.”

The board decided that it would attempt to get on the county commission agenda for the commission’s Sept. 5 meeting to discuss the clinic construction project.

In other business, RHCD Director Randy Johnson said the search for physicians to staff the Pinedale clinic is meeting with some success. The board signed a contract with Dr. Judy Boyle for one year for $209,086, plus benefits. Offers have been made to two other physicians, while a third new physician waits to see what happens with the new board, according to Johnson.

So while the Pinedale facility gets more doctors, the Marbleton clinic is experiencing the opposite. Johnson said that the board was notified that Dr. Douglas Lasuer tendered his resignation last night, effective Oct. 27. Johnson said the search is underway for two physicians to staff the Marbleton clinic.

Two other personnel actions were taken as well, according to Johnson. Clerk Jauna McGinnis’s salary level was raised to $61,448 anually, plus benefits. Johnson’s contract was extended at his existing pay scale, for a period of six months. When asked why the contract was only six months and not ayear (as is his current contract), Johnson said, “no comment.”

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